Located on Lake Champlain in northeastern New York, Fort Ticonderoga served as a key point of access to both Canada and the Hudson River Valley during the French and Indian War. On May 10, 1775, Benedict Arnold of Massachusetts joined Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont in a dawn attack on the fort, surprising and capturing the sleeping British garrison. Although it was a small-scale conflict, the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga was the first American victory of the Revolutionary War, and would give the Continental Army much-needed artillery to be used in future battles.
In 1755, French settlers in North America began building a military fortification, Fort Carillon, on the western shore of Lake Champlain. Because of its location, which offered access to both Canada and the Hudson River Valley, the fort saw more fighting during the French and Indian War than any other post.
In July 1758, British forces unsuccessfully attacked the fort, suffering heavy casualties. Under the command of General Jeffrey Amherst, the British returned the following year and were able to defeat the French, who destroyed much of Fort Carillon and withdrew to Canada.
With the fort now under their control, the British renamed it Fort Ticonderoga. By April 1775, when hostilities broke out between colonial militiamen and British soldiers at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, the British garrison at Fort Ticonderoga numbered barely 50 men.